Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Number Ones 7/11/12

Wednesday Number Ones is a weekly feature here at Top 5 Comics. We take the books that are premiering a first issue from that week and give a quick opinion on them. From time to time we may also include more than issue number ones in this feature. If a noteworthy one-shot or the first issue of a new story arc is released, we may talk about it in this feature as well.

This week, we will cover:  Battle Beasts #1, Bloodshot #1, Chew: Secret Agent Poyo #1, and Crow #1.

Battle Beasts #1
Writer: Bobby Curnow
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Company: IDW Publishing
There have been some glances back to the 80's made in the past few weeks (He-Man, I'm looking at you), but Battle Beasts, a popular Japanese comic put out in the late 80's that was actually a tie-in to Transformers, never really resonated with me beyond being cool little inch high action figures with heat activated stickers on their chests. Enter writer Bobby Curnow, out of nowhere I might say, and now we have a comic series that puts certain re-imaginings that we've seen to shame (Michael Bay, I'm looking at you). He gets pretty much everything right and marks off most of the check boxes that make a fun and notable comic. Not only do we begin with action, but through the action each Beast character gets explored and has an attribute that makes them unique. I'd liken it to what John Rogers was doing in the D&D book, which is a very good thing. Curnow even is able to introduce some human characters that are thrown into an alien invasion that add something to the story instead of detract, mainly due to the fact that their story and the Battle Beast's story are woven together in a more interesting manner. Schiti's artwork is slick and very approachable. The simple and direct lines make the action on the pages very easy to read and it's able to capture moments and human emotion well. Battle Beasts exceeds any and all expectations. Plus, it features Ram Beasts beating the living snot out of Bear Beasts! How cool is that? The answer: Pretty. Damn. Cool.

Bloodshot #1
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artists: Manuel Garcia & Arturo Lozzi
Company: Valiant Comics
A super fast paced issue, one filled with a sizable amount of blood and much in the way of shooting. Duane Swierczynski doesn't let the reader catch a breath in this revival and rework of Valiant's murderous Six Million Dollar Man styled character. The story that's being created is fairly simple: Black Ops Military Man who's an unstoppable force finds out his life is not exactly what he thought it was. Still, the devil's in the details and Swierczynski, the man behind the new Birds of Prey and a well thought of run of Cable, strategically places quite a few of them throughout, giving the somewhat light story much needed weight. The one real problem that I have with the issue is the art. I understand the idea behind having two different artists, one handling the out of combat work while the other handles the action, but it causes a bit of a disconnect at times and pulls the reader out of the story. Garcia's more scratchy and motion oriented style works hand in hand with the violence, ratcheting up the cool factor. Lozzi's work, which has a Cary Nord aspect to it, while still nice doesn't seem to fit in. Despite the small problem, a solid enough issue.

Chew: Secret Agent Poyo #1
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Robert Guillory
Company: Image Comics

I'll be up front and completely honest with you, I haven't been reading Chew lately. In fact, because they're so nice and the format is so kick ass, I've been reading Chew only in the Omnivore volumes. What can I say, I love me some Hardcover Comics! That said, this is Poyo we're talking about, so I had to see what was what. Let me tell you, the what that is to be found is Comedy and Laughter. That's what is contained in these slick paper pages. You don't have to have been reading the main title to enjoy this one. Sure, it'll help, but you can easily sit back and let the chaos that John Layman and Rob Guillory have become known for wash over you. It's a bloodbath as we watch Poyo help the British Government take on a madman who can make it rain farm animals. Guillory's style is so animated and so larger than life that the antics bleed energy and make it seem as if your eyes need to be Velcroed to the page in order to siphon its power. But wait, there's more. Not only do you get a great story, there's also some amazing pin-ups by a vast array of different artists, each one giving their own spin to the character of Poyo! There are not enough comics out there that are about homicidal cybernetic Kung-Fu Roosters. There really aren't.

The Crow #1
Writer: John Shirley
Artist: Kevin Colden
Company: IDW Publishing
The Crow is back. After reading this first issue, I really have to wonder why. The story that John Shirley has started tells the tale of two young lovers in Japan. Our main "hero" is American and has spent a while in Japan acclimating to the new kind of lifestyle while finding his soul mate as well. That portion of the story is interesting, especially the moments between he and his wife to be's father. They smack of intelligence and great character work. Where it falls apart and begins to feel cluttered is everything else. It waxes and wanes in its ability to be interesting, yet often it simply comes off feeling bland. The villains and their scheme seems to involve some sort of body swapping/soul destruction technology and isn't executed as well as it could have been. Colden's artwork is a bit on the rough side too.  It reminds me in some ways of Riley Rossmo's work on Proof, but Colden's work feels even looser in nature and at times doesn't convey the impact of the story quite as well as it could. The muddy and shadow laden panels feels very Crow, so that's good, but nothing about the book is very exciting. As harsh as it sounds, if you're feeling a need to experience The Crow, the movie and or a re-read of the original comic are probably better outlets.

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